Jonas Ø. Nielsen is Professor in Integrative Geography at Humboldt-Universität´s Department of Geography. He studied social anthropology at Auckland University, New Zealand, and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and obtained his doctorate in Human Geography in 2010 at University of Copenhagen with a dissertation entitled “Despite the Rain. Living and dealing with climate change in a small West African village.” From 2010 to 2013, he worked as a Post-Doctoral fellow in the European Research Council (ERC) funded project Waterworlds, Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, headed by Prof. Kirsten Hastrup.
Jonas’ research is concerned with human dimensions of global climate change, land-use change and how these issues open up for explorations around global-local interactions in an increasing connected world. Jonas has conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Burkina Faso since 2007. His group is currently working in diverse settings around the world and the comparative aspect of research is a central part of Jonas’ work. Another central theme throughout his work is causality and how to understand the impact of different global drivers on local lives, and vice versa.

At IRI THESys, Jonas is Research Group Leader since November 2013. Together with Post-Doctoral fellow Cecilie Friis and PhD students Janine Hauer and Anna Pedersen, he is investigating the emerging framework of telecoupling in land use science considering how distal environmental, social, political and economic drivers of change influence land-use changes in northern Laos, Burkina Faso and Tanzania. This work is embedded in the Innovative Training Network COUPLED funded by the European Commission H2020 programme Jonas coordinate. PhD student Özge Dogmus is also working on land-use changes, but focuses mainly on water conflicts and how different drivers intermingle in a Bosnia-Herzegovina national park. PhD student Haoying Li works on how rural space is reshaped in China, and hence focusing also on land-use changes. PhD student Änais Dresse is also concerned with how the environment becomes part of conflicts but also offer potential solutions in her project on environmental peacebuilding. PhD student Frederick Dapilah is working with Jonas on climate change in West Africa. As a teacher, Jonas is currently offering courses on qualitative research methodologies, climate change adaptation, and urbanization in sub-Saharan Africa.

Jonas is also a Scientific Steering Committee member of the Global land Programme.

Research Interests

  • Human-environmental systems
  • Global-Local entanglements
  • Global Land use change
  • Adaptation to climate change
  • Interdisciplinary research


COUPLED – Operationalising Telecouplings for Solving Sustainability Challenges for Land Use